Wetland Wildlife

Though wetlands are most often associated with waterfowl and bird species, they provide essential habitat for a wide variety of species - birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects - up to 45% of which are rare and endangered. The high rate of wetland loss has contributed to the endangered status of many species. Some species, such as the wood duck and muskrat, spend most of their life within wetlands, while others - striped bass, peregrine falcon and deer - occasionally visit wetlands for food, water, or shelter. Those species that require wetland habitat to complete at least a portion of their life cycle are called obligate species. (1)

Wetlands are favored by many species for a number of reasons. These unique ecosystems provide:

  • Shelter from predators in vegetative cover;
  • Ideal nesting conditions for many waterfowl;
  • A safe stop-over location for migratory birds to rest;
  • Essential spawning and nursery habitat for commercially important fish and shellfish;
  • An extensive, complex food chain that supports numerous species, including man.

Mark Hostetler, an extension wildlife specialist with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, looks for birds on Bivens Arm, an urban lake in Gainesville, Fla. - Thursday, July 1, 2004. Hostetler and graduate student Ashley Traut conducted a four-month bird count on four urban lakes in central Florida - and found that waterbirds seem to prefer feeding along developed shoreline. (UF/IFAS Photo:Marisol Amador)

Local Field Guides

U.S. Local Wildlife Guides: What's in Your Backyard?
Enter your zip code and get a local wildlife guide specific to your area of Florida . Guides include photographs, audio clips and track identification for mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies and trees and wildflowers.

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Redtailed hawk seen flying over University of Florida campus. (UF/IFAS photo: Josh Wickham)

Threatened, Endangered and Exotic Species

Florida's Endangered Species,Threatened Species and Species of Special Concern
Official 2004 Florida lists.

Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Animals
National list of endangered and threatened species from December 1999. Also includes monthly statistics and searchable database.

Florida Exotic Wildlife
Fact sheets on exotic and naturalized wildlife species and breakdown of species listings by county. Includes statewide and county statistics.

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The lovebug, which is actually a fly whose scientific name is Plecia nearctica, migrated naturally along the Gulf of Mexico. It was first identified in southeastern Texas in 1940 and has since spread through the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, as well as Georgia and South Carolina. (UF/IFAS photo by Jim Castner)

Invertebrates and Insects

Freshwater Snails of Florida
Fieldguide with dichotmous key identification, tips for preparing specimens and detailed information on each family.

Venomous Spiders of Florida
Guide for widow and recluse spiders of Florida including close up photos and proper identification tips.

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Fish and Aquatic Wetland Animals

Biological profiles of fish (and sharks)
Fact sheets on Florida 's fish species including taxonomy, geographic distribution, habitat, unique biology, importance to humans, and conservation.

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Alligator in lake. UF/IFAS photo.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Herpetology at the Florida Museum of Natural History
Information and links on frogs and toads, snakes, salamanders, lizards, sea turtles, crocodiles and alligators, including a searchable bibliography of references to the Florida species.

Florida's Alligator Management Program
Fact sheets, research projects, info on reporting nuisance alligators, kids only sections.

Frogs and Toads of Florida
A guide to the 33 frog and toad species that live in Florida , including pictures and distribution information for each. Audio files of the animals' calls are included for many species.

Online Guide to the Snakes of Florida
Field guide to Florida 's snakes with fact sheets and pictures. Species are marked as harmless or venomous.

Amphibians and Reptiles of the Southeast United States and the Virgin Islands
Species fact sheets and pictures on about 30 frog and toad species and about 15 salamander species found in our area. Also includes a glossary of terms used to describe reptile and amphibian species.

Southeastern Amphibian Research and Monitoring Program
Part of a nation-wide program to determine the status and trends of amphibians populations in the U.S. Includes information on proper amphibian sampling and statistics.

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Waterfowl and Wading Birds

The Great Florida Birding Trail
Official site of the 2000-mile highway trail which unifies existing and new birding sites throughout Florida . Includes birdwatching basics for beginners, tips for birdwatching in Florida , a calendar of events and trail guides.

Florida Waterfowl
Fact sheets on waterfowl species, habitat conservation, waterfowl surveys, hunting information and links to waterfowl identification guides. Leg band recoveries can be reported here.

Waterbird Colony Locator
Statewide aerial survey during 1999 to locate waterbird breeding colonies. Search by species or county.

Breeding Bird Atlas
This Atlas project attempted to record the breeding distributions of all bird species in the state during 1986-1991. Species distribution maps and fact sheets.

Wings over Florida birding certificate program
This free awards program is designed to help beginning birdwatchers learn to identify birds within the state. Bird watchers can order an introductory birdwatching packet and earn certificates based on the number of birds they identify.

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Florida Panther Net
Official education site of our state animal. Includes extensive facts on the panther, online games, activities, screensavers and an educator's section. The panther facts section includes several information sections with sounds, pictures and videos.

Florida Black Bear
This Florida mammal has been listed as an endangered species since 1974. The sight includes a fact sheet on the bears, a slide show and teacher curriculum guide.

Save the Manatee Club
This organization was started to involve the public in manatee conservation efforts. The site includes manatee facts, news, viewing area locations, population status information and an adopt-a-manatee program.

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Works Cited
  1. " A World in Our Backyard: Wetland Functions. " U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wetlands Division Wetlands Education Materials. Available online: http://www.epa.gov/gmpo/education/pdfs/WorldBackyard3.pdf